EVIDENCE AGAINST THE WEST MEMPHIS THREE: PART I
On May 5th, 1993, three eight-year-old boys from West Memphis, AR, disappeared while riding their bikes around their neighbourhood. Their naked, beaten, and hogtied bodies were discovered in a drainage ditch the next day, in a local patch of woods known as Robin Hood Hills. Christopher Byers, Michael Moore, and Steve Branch had been subjected to a vicious beating, and two of the boys had been mutilated.
Three local teenagers were charged with the brutal triple murder - Jessie Misskelley Jnr (17), Jason Baldwin (16) and Damien Echols (18). In two sensational trials the trio were found guilty of the murders, and Damien Echols - the presumed ringleader - was sentenced to death. Baldwin and Misskelley were sentenced to life terms plus 40 years.
In 2011 all three accused struck a plea deal with the State of Arkansas and were released from prison after serving 18 years.
Over the years, four documentaries have been made about the case, all of them arguing that the ‘West Memphis 3’ are innocent and a miscarriage of justice occurred when the three teenagers were convicted of the murders. These documentaries are most peoples introduction to the case, and in many respects they skew or omit details of the crime to make the West Memphis 3 appear innocent. While these documentaries make valid criticisms of the investigation and the justice system, they fail to deliver the full, truthful story of the tragic murders. Without further ado, here’s the evidence you never get to see that points to the guilt of the West Memphis 3:
(NOTE: this post doesnt contain any source details because the website that contains all the case documents is currently inaccessible. I promise I will add the links and source details when I can access the website callahan8k.com again)
1) NONE OF THE THREE ACCUSED HAD ALIBIS
Its a little known fact that Echols, Misskelley, and Baldwin could not provide alibis for the night of the murders. The alibis presented in 'Paradise Lost’ and 'West of Memphis’ have been heavily distorted and/or lied about, so lets see what the three accused REALLY got up to on the night of May 5th:
In 'West of Memphis’, several shorts of footage from Jessie Misskelley’s trial shows a number of witnesses confirming that Misskelley attended a wrestling match with friends on the night of May 5th, 1993. An (undated) registry with Misskelley’s name on it and a photo of a wrestler is offered as proof that Misskelley was out of town on the night of the murders.
What 'West of Memphis’ conveniently leaves out is the footage of Jessie’s alibi witnesses being cross-examined by the prosecution. When questioned, every single one of them gave conflicting stories about who attended the match, who drove, where they went, and the places they visited. While all of them confirmed Jessie had tagged along on at least one trip to a wrestling match, none of them could say for sure if he was present on the night of May 5th, and receipts produced by the prosecution seemed to point to the fact that the wrestling trip with Jessie actually occurred several weeks before the murders.
In 'West of Memphis’ Misskelley’s attorney Dan Stidham complains that the jury “didn’t pay much attention” to Jessie’s alibi. Why is that? Because Jessie’s alibi witnesses gave such contradictory evidence that the jury didn’t believe them.
An interesting point to note is that none of the documentaries made about the case even bother to give Jason Baldwin an alibi for May 5th, 1993. Why? Because his alibi claims to police were so vague and unbelievable his defense lawyers didnt even try to submit them in court. This is an highly unusual step for the defense to take - if Baldwin had given them an alibi that seemed even half decent, his lawyers would have certainly submitted that evidence in trial.
The fact that Jason Baldwin’s lawyers didnt even bother to submit an alibi means only one thing; their client could not provide a single bit of proof he was elsewhere on the night of the murders.
Baldwin’s lawyers were aware that he had no proof of alibi, and they knew the prosecution would use this fact against him during cross examination. So they did the clever thing and did not bring up his alibi at all during the trial.
In the years since the murders, Jason Baldwin has never given an explanation for a lack of alibi nor has he attempted to provide one. His actions on the night of May 5th are therefore a complete mystery. Or are they?
Damien Echols’ alibi claims have been heavily distorted over the years, most notably in 'West of Memphis’ where alibi witness Jennifer Bearden (who was 12 at the time of the murders) claims she was on the phone with Echols all night on May 5th, 1993.
The murders of the three children are widely believed to have occurred between 6:30pm and 8:30pm on May 5th, 1993. Jennifer Bearden’s claim she was on the phone with Echols from 5:30pm to 9:30pm is presented as concrete proof Echols did not commit the murders.
“….she [Bearden] had been on the phone with Damien and Jason during the afternoon after school until about 9:30pm”
- Jennifer Bearden in 'West of Memphis’
In actuality, Damien Echols originally claimed to have talked to FOUR different girls at home between the hours of 4:00pm and 10:30pm on the night of the murders. This immediately contradicts what Jennifer Bearden says in 'West of Memphis’ where she claims ONLY SHE talked to Echols on the phone during the hours in question.
Whats more, Bearden’s statement she reads on camera in 'West of Memphis’ (above) is actually misleading; in the statement she gave to police on the 10th of September, 1993, Bearden states she rang Damien Echols at Jason Baldwin’s house between 4:15pm and 5:30pm, talked to BOTH of them for twenty minutes, before Damien told her to ring him back at 8:00pm because he and Jason were “going somewhere”.
Here is the part of Bearden’s interview with Bryn Ridge where she confirms this, verbatim:
RIDGE: About what time was that call made to Jason’s?
BEARDEN: Between - it had to be somewhere in between 4:15 and 5, something like that….5 or 5:30
RIDGE: Who answered the phone at Jason’s?
RIDGE: And did you talk to Damien?
BEARDEN: Yeah I talked to Jason for five minutes and the (inaudible) with Damien and he wasnt talking because they were playing video games with his little brother Matt
RIDGE: Okay, and after that conversation you had with him?
BEARDEN: He [Echols] said him and Jason were going to go somewhere, him and Jason were going somewhere, and that he, um, wanted me to call him later at his house around 8 and I said okay
RIDGE: Okay, did he say where he was going to go?
The above statement is Jennifer’s own words, transcribed by police four months after the murders. They directly contradict what she says in 'West of Memphis’, where she claims to have talked to Damien UNINTERRUPTED between the hours of 4:15 and 9:30.
Bearden’s interview with Bryn Ridge clearly demonstrates she rang Echols between 4:15-5:30 pm, talked with Echols and Baldwin for twenty minutes, before Echols told her to ring him back at 8:00pm. Furthermore, Bearden’s statement implies Echols was out WITH Jason Baldwin between the time of her first phone call at 4:15pm and the time she rang him back at 8:00pm.
Further down in her police statement, Bearden says she attempted to ring Echols again at 8pm, like he requested, BUT WAS TOLD HE WASNT HOME. Here is the excerpt from that statement, verbatim:
RIDGE: Okay, and when you called back about 8?
BEARDEN: His grandmother said he wasn’t there, and that I was supposed to call back around 9….and I called back around 9:20, 9:30 and I talk to him [Echols] for a little bit, but then I had to get off the phone because I wasn’t supposed to be on the phone after 9:30
Bearden told police in her statement that she rang Damien’s house at 8pm like he asked, but his grandmother (Francis Gosa) told her he wasn’t there. This is a HUGE piece of evidence against Echols. Not only does it prove Echols lied when he told police he was at home all night, but it places him outside his home WITH Jason Baldwin during the crucial hours the murders are believed to have been committed. The murders are thought to have occurred between 6:30pm and 8:30pm, remember? Jennifer Bearden’s statement only covers the time between 4:15pm to 5:30pm and after 9:20pm. She tried to reach Echols’ at 8:00pm, but couldn’t get a hold of him.
Contrary to what is presented in 'West of Memphis’, Damien’s Echols’ whereabouts are unaccounted for between the hours of 5:30pm and 9:20pm. Again, the murders are thought to have happened between 6:30pm and 8:30pm. Jennifer Bearden’s police statement does not support Echols’ claim he was at home all night talking on the phone. His other alibi witnesses - Holly George, Heather Cliett, and Domini Teer - further damage his alibi claims with their own police statements:
1) Holly George
Holly George told police she spoke with Damien Echols around 3:30pm on May 5th, 1993. She only called Echols once that day. Holly also claimed she and Echols engaged in a three-way phone call with Jennifer Bearden, and she only talked to Echols for five minutes.
There are several contradictory details in Holly George’s statement - she claimed to have talked to Damien AND Jennifer via three-way calling, yet Jennifer doesn’t mention a three-way call in her interview. Holly also states she rang Damien around 3:30pm and their conversation didn’t last past 4:00pm, which conflicts with Damien’s assertion he spoke with her much later in the evening.
George also mentions in her statement that she talked to Jennifer Bearden after the murders, who told her that she (Bearden) had spoken with Echols after George rang him, and tried to reach him later that evening but he wasn’t home. Jennifer Bearden confirms this in her own statement (above)
2) Heather Cliett
Heather Cliett is another girl whom Damien Echols claims to have spoken to on the phone on the day of the murders. In statements given to police on June 7th and 8th - immediately after Damien was arrested - Cliett stated that her, Holly George, and Jennifer Bearden had talked on the phone via three-way calling on the night of May 5th. She said Damien only joined the conversation around 10:00pm.
As you can see, Heather Cliett’s version of events are dramatically different from Holly George’s statement and Jennifer Bearden’s statement:
- Holly George claimed she had a three-way phone call only with Damien and Jennifer; she did not say Heather was also present during the three-way conversation.
- Jennifer Bearden does not mention a three-way call at all in her statement, despite two different people claiming she participated in one.
Since all three alibi witnesses - Bearden, George, and Cliett - gave conflicting statements about a three-way call between them and Damien, its impossible to know whether the call actually happened, and who was present if it DID happen. The important thing to note is that Heather Cliett states she talked to Echols AFTER 10:00pm, and did not talk to him before. Cliett’s statement doesn’t support Echols’ assertion he was at home until after 10:00pm.
3) Domini Teer
Domini Teer told prosecutors on the stand she spent the afternoon of May 5th with Damien Echols and Jason Baldwin. Domini was Echols’ pregnant girlfriend at the time.
She told prosecutor John Fogleman that Damien came to her house around 1:00pm on the day of the murders, and the two of them waited for Jason to come home from school, which he did around 3:25pm. Teer then states her, Damien, Jason, and a friend called Ken walked over to Hubert Bartoush’s (Jason’s uncle) house to watch Jason mow the lawns.
Teer tells Fogleman the time they arrived at Jason’s uncles house was around 4:00pm. Here is an excerpt from her testimony, verbatim:
FOGLEMAN: Okay. About what time did ya’ll get to his uncles?
TEER: Um….4 o'clock, something like that
FOGLEMAN: 4 or 4:15, something like that?
TEER: yeah, it was around there.
Domini told Fogleman after she, Damien, and Ken arrived at Jason’s uncles house at around 4:00pm, the three of them watched Jason mow the lawn.
Domini Teer’s testimony on the stand conflicts with Jennifer Bearden’s statements to police - remember, Jennifer told police she spoke to Damien AND Jason on the phone between 4:15pm and 5:30pm that day. Domini, however, told a prosecutor that she, Damien, Jason, and another friend went to an uncles house to mow the lawn, and they arrived there around 4:00pm- 4:15pm.
Damien cant of been on the phone with Bearden and travelling to Jason’s uncles house with Domini at the same time. One of the girls is either lying or mistaken about the times they were in contact with Damien.
Domini Teer also stated in court that after she and Echols watched Jason mow the lawns, she and Damien was picked up by his mother around 5:00pm. Damien’s mother dropped her home around 5:30pm, and the two didn’t speak again that night until 10:00pm when Damien rang her on the phone.
Domini Teer’s testimony only covers Echols’ whereabouts for the hours between 1:00pm and 5:30pm, and after 10:00pm on the night of May 5th. Her testimony clashes with the statement of Heather Cliett who also claimed to have talked to Echols around 10:00pm.
The testimony of Damien Echols’ alibi witnesses makes for confusing reading, as all four of them contradict his claim he was home all night, and with none of the statements actually providing him with an alibi: when compared together, not a single one of Damien’s four witnesses can vouch for his whereabouts for the hours between 5:30pm and 9:20pm on the day of the murder.
A lack of alibi in itself is not irrefutable proof of guilt. But when you consider the fact NONE of the three accused had a solid alibi, as well as the evidence that suggest at least two of the accused- Echols and Baldwin - were together walking around during the hours in question, it begs the question: where exactly were they? What were they doing? Why couldnt a single one of their witnesses verify their claims?